Recapturing Youth

Sunday, February 16, 2014 – 4 p.m.

recapturingyouth
Central United Methodist Church
1875 North Central Avenue
Phoenix AZ 85004


Featuring Avanti Future Stars Senior Division Winner,
16-year-old pianist Eric Lin

  • Elgar: Wand of Youth Suite No.1
  • Kabalevsky: Concerto No. 3, Op. 50 “Youth”
  • Borodin: Symphony No. 2 “Heroic”

English composer Sir Edward Elgar and Polovtsian Dances composer Alexander Borodin reinterpret their own youth, while 20th Century composer Dmitry Kabalevsky celebrates youth in his most popular concerto.

The dictates of the Proletariat Paradise that was the Soviet Union (1917-1989) demanded that composers write music for the “people,” and that especially included young people. The most successful composer of music for young people in the Soviet era was that talented party apparatchik Dmitri Kabalevsky. His career almost took a bad turn when the notorious Zhdanov Decree of 1948 came down and it was suggested that he would be among the composers condemned for “formalistic tendencies” – along with Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Myaskovsky, and Khachaturian. But Kabalevsky’s party connections kept him out of trouble, and he was probably helped by the fact that at the time he was working on a series of three concertos for young players for cello, violin and piano. These three works have become enormously successful, and are still among his most frequently performed works. The lively Piano Concerto No. 3 featured in this concert has a succession of great tunes, clever and colorful orchestration and pianistic figuration (solo musical figures for the piano) which makes it a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Sir Edward Elgar was a composer with a strong nostalgic streak in his make-up. It pervades such works as his Cello Concerto and First Symphony. In his two Wand of Youth suites Elgar engaged in some personal nostalgia. He used material he had written as a child of twelve for a family event as the basis for two suites of orchestral music. The tunes show that Elgar was a talented child, and his masterful handling of the material shows that he grew into a wonderfully imaginative orchestrator. The music will remind some of the qualities of the Enigma variations, showing us that the signatures of the Elgar style were established early, despite his reputation as late starter – it was only his reputation that had a late start, not his talent.

We end the program with the Second Symphony of Alexander Borodin, who in many ways was a composer with a late start – or no start at all, for he spent his life divided between his work as a chemist and as a composer, although he started on both paths when very young. It is true that as life went on he devoted more and more time to music and less to chemistry, but it is also true that is one of a very few people who are recognized as among the immortals in two entirely separate realms. All chemists know of Borodin the chemist who co-discovered the aldol reaction (important currently in the process of synthesizing the drug Lipitor), and all musicians know Borodin the composer of the Polovtsian Dances and the opera Prince Igor. His Second Symphony, that we’ll hear in this concert program, was his most successful large-scale purely instrumental work, and it was further immortalized by the inclusion of some of its themes in the musical Kismet. At one time the symphony was played frequently but in recent years it has somewhat slipped into neglect. We are happy to bring this delightful work back to our contemporary audience. Wand of Youth suites Elgar engaged in some personal nostalgia. He used material he had written as a child of twelve for a family event as the basis for two suites of orchestral music. The tunes show that Elgar was a talented child, and his masterful handling of the material shows that he grew into a wonderfully imaginative orchestrator. The music will remind some of the qualities of the Enigma variations, showing us that the signatures of the Elgar style were established early, despite his reputation as late starter – it was only his reputation that had a late start, not his talent.

We end the program with the Second Symphony of Alexander Borodin, who in many ways was a composer with a late start – or no start at all, for he spent his life divided between his work as a chemist and as a composer, although he started on both paths when very young. It is true that as life went on he devoted more and more time to music and less to chemistry, but it is also true that is one of a very few people who are recognized as among the immortals in two entirely separate realms. All chemists know of Borodin the chemist who co-discovered the aldol reaction (important currently in the process of synthesizing the drug Lipitor), and all musicians know Borodin the composer of the Polovtsian Dances and the opera Prince Igor. His Second Symphony, that we’ll hear in this concert program, was his most successful large-scale purely instrumental work, and it was further immortalized by the inclusion of some of its themes in the musical Kismet. At one time the symphony was played frequently but in recent years it has somewhat slipped into neglect. We are happy to bring this delightful work back to our contemporary audience.

Upcoming Events
  1. Young Artists: Hannah Goldstick and Samuel Xu

    September 23 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm MST
  2. Mid-Century Masters: 20th Century English Composers

    October 29 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm MST
  3. A Day With Papa Haydn: The Morning, Mid-Day, and Evening Symphonies (Saturday)

    January 27, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm MST
  4. A Day With Papa Haydn: The Morning, Mid-Day, and Evening Symphonies (Sunday)

    January 28, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm MST
  5. St. John Passion: An Easter Oratorio

    March 25, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm MST

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